This research explored peoples’ preferences as well as use patterns of and satisfaction with six nature recreational areas in Istanbul. These are the Bosphorus, the Marmara Sea Coast, the Belgrade Forest, the Black Sea Coast, the Princes Islands, and the Historical Peninsula. By applying a paper-pencil survey - to 500 individuals randomly, we found that the Bosphorus was the most visited area, followed by the Marmara Sea Coast. The least visited areas were the Belgrade Forest, the Black Sea Coast, and the Princes Islands. In general, recreational areas within a close distance to the city centre or residential areas, with convenient public transportation, and a variety of amenities to undertake multiple recreational needs are more likely to be used and visited by students and those aged between 25 and 34. The primary criterion to visit their favorite recreational area was its beauty of nature, followed by the closeness to their residents. Most of the respondents were engaged in leisurely walking. The results also indicate a clear correlation between travel time, visit frequency, and duration of visits. More distant recreational areas requiring longer travel times were visited less frequently, but visit duration was also longer. In contrast, recreational areas within a close distance to the city centre and visitors’ residences were visited more frequently, for a period of two hours or less, and primarily for leisurely walking. The presented results underscore the need to better understand which characteristics of recreational areas increase quality, quantity, and scope of their usage by appealing to a broad range of age and occupational groups.
Keywords: Nature-based recreation, urban green, usability quality, Istanbul